There was a published report yesterday that Sugar Ray Leonard will fight Marvin Hagler early next summer at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. But representatives of Hagler, Home Box Office and Memorial Stadium said the New York Post's story is simply speculation preceding Leonard's Nov. 9 announcement about his future.
At that time, at an elaborate press conference at the Baltimore Civic Center, Leonard will announce whether he will retire from boxing. He underwent surgery May 9 for a partially detached retina in his left eye. He has not fought since Feb. 15 when he successfully defended his world welterweight title against Bruce Finch. Leonard's record is 32-1.
Dr. Ronald Michels, the surgeon, said last week that Leonard has fully recovered from the injury and can resume boxing if he wishes. Most published reports have speculated that Leonard, 26, will retire. But in a recent interview with The Washington Post, Leonard gave every indication, without directly saying so, that he will fight again.
Leonard was in San Remo, Italy, yesterday to serve as a television commentator for Hagler's title defense against Fulgencio Obelmejias.
After he knocked out Obelmejias in the fifth round last night, Hagler told Leonard in an postfight interview on HBO, "You don't want to quit until you come into Marvin's corner."
Leonard was noncommittal. When the two hammed it up and Hagler said what a great fight it would be and how much money they could make, Leonard mugged into the camera and said, "Mike Trainer, sign me up." But when asked if he would fight again, Leonard said, "I gotta think about it."
Tim Braines, the No. 2 man at HBO Sports, which has Leonard under contract as a boxing analyst, called the report of a Hagler fight "really speculation" and said that he was unaware of negotiations on such a fight. Ben Roth, manager of Memorial Stadium, said there have been no negotiations about use of the stadium.
Contacted in San Remo, Stephen Wainwright, Hagler's lawyer, said that Hagler and his managers, Ray and Goody Petronelli, plan to be at Leonard's press conference. "We are prepared to sit down and negotiate a contract with Mike Trainer anytime," Wainwright said.
"I haven't spoken to Trainer about a Leonard-Hagler match for several months. I think everyone is respecting Ray's wish that he be allowed to make his announcement on Nov. 9."